Three IIM graduates make ₹3,500 crore each selling payment startup

At the turn of 2000, three Arthur Andersen LLP consultants set out to develop a digital payments company, and the first institutional backer they found was an Indian state-run lender. Proses NV bought BillDesk for $4.7 billion this week, giving each of the three partners half a billion dollars for their combined 31 percent share.

M.N. Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal, and Karthik Ganapathy’s journey defy India’s startup textbook standards. Because BillDesk had never used a public relations firm, Proses-owned PayU found itself in the position of having to handle the entire acquisition announcement.

The founders met while working at Arthur Andersen in the financial services department and left in 1999, just a few years before the accounting behemoth imploded in the wake of the Enron Corp. affair in 2002. They were all graduates of India’s top Indian Institute of Management, and they quit so-called “success-track” jobs to start their businesses with little savings.